Posts Tagged ‘challah’

Vayeitzei Challah

November 8, 2013


My kids were home from school and wanted to do a parsha project. This is the challah idea they came up with: challah shaped like a ladder resting on challah shaped like rocks fused together into one large rock (okay, really pull apart challah, but use your imagination).

I took some extra challah dough, pressed it into a rectangle, and added a chocolate filling (coconut oil spread over the dough, sprinkled with pareve Israeli Nesquik and chopped bittersweet chocolate). After folding the dough in half, I slit the dough to make it look like a ladder. I baked it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes and, presto: chocolate ladder danish.

Speculoos Spiced Apple Butter and Apple Butter Swirl Challah

August 19, 2013


In Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking Across America, there is a recipe from Macrina Bakery for apple cinnamon monkey bread that is really a loaf of sweet dough rolled up with apple butter and cinnamon sugar (another version of this recipe appears in the Macrina Bakery cookbook, and you can also see For The Love of Bread’s version).

I thought this would be a great idea for challah, with the cinnamon sugar left out to make it more bread and less dessert (although cinnamon sugar could only make it taste better . . . ). (Update: I made this recipe again, adding raisins and cinnamon sugar–excellent!)

Then I had the idea to spice the apple butter like those oh-so-popular speculoos cookies (also known as Biscoff).


I’m keeping a sourdough starter going, so I looked around for a sourdough challah recipe. After trying one sourdough challah recipe and not being completely satisfied, I decided to try a sweet dough recipe that uses sourdough starter and a little yeast.

Of course, you can use whatever challah dough you like. If you use a dough sweetened with honey, you will have apple honey challah, which is perfect for the upcoming holidays. I didn’t add raisins this time, but I will add them next time I make this recipe.

My daughter, who has been resisting sourdough bread, said this was the best challah I ever made. The challah tastes like babka (it would really be like babka if I added cinnamon sugar and raisins). The veins of apple butter give intense apple taste without making the challah soggy as sometimes happens with apple challah when the  apple exude moisture. I served extra apple butter on the side as a spread for the challah.

By the way, if you think apple butter sounds dull, imagine this: an apple farm in September, the crisp Autumn breeze wafting the enticing scent of ripe apples, freshly made apple cider and warm doughnuts. You end up going home with way more apples than you can eat. Then, to make use of that insane amount of apples, you make this apple butter recipe and your home is filled with the aroma of spice and apples. It is the fragrance of Fall in a jelly jar.


Wordless Wednesday: Caramel Topped Challah Cake

June 6, 2012

Imagine French toast (or challah kugel or bread pudding), but as a cake, with caramel sauce . . . .


Vayeishev: Challah Ketonet Passim, Sheaves, Sun and Moon and Stars

December 14, 2011

For this week’s parsha, a challot shaped liked a “ketonet passim,” sheaves of wheat, and the sun and moon and stars. The challah ketonet passim is decorated so that the base of the coat is a sheaf of wheat (with the belt of the coat being the cord tying together the sheaf) and there are stars and a sun and moon on the top of the coat (hard to see after baking, unfortunately).

In this week’s parsha, Yaacov gives Yosef a “ketonet passim.” This is often translated as a “coat of many colors,” but that is not the only possible meaning.

From The Living Torah (as quoted on Chabad, Balashon, and ParshaBlog):

Ketonet passim, in the Hebrew. The word passim can be translated as “colorful” (Radak; Septuagint), “embroidered” (Ibn Ezra; Bachya; Nachmanides on Exodus 28:2), “striped” (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim), or “illustrated” (Targum Yonathan). It can also denote a long garment, coming down to the “palms” of the hands (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth; Midrash Rabbah), and the feet (Lekach Tov). Alternatively, the word denotes the material out of which the coat was made, which was fine wool (Rashi) or silk (Ibn Janach). Hence, Ketonet passim, may be translated as “a full-sleeved robe,” “a coat of many colors,” “a coat reaching to his feet,” “an ornamented tunic,” “a silk robe,” or “a fine woolen cloak.”

So, we don’t really know what the ketonet passim looked like, not even if it was colorful, or what that would have meant in the context of that time (although Balashon’s post on this does have a picture of ketonet passim from the Daat Mikra on Shmuel II, and they are colorful).

We do know that the ketonet passim indicated the favoritism by Yaacov that made Yosef’s brothers so jealous. But, why was this garment a sign of favor, what did it signify? As used elsewhere in the Torah, the word ketonet relates to both royal and priestly garments as well as to Adam’s clothing, as Rabbi Kahn notes in “Clothes Make the Man.”

Rabbi Kahn cites the Midrash that the ketonet passim were the original clothes of Adam, passed down to Nimrod, taken by Esav and then used by Yaacov to get the blessing from Yitzchak.  Chabad has a more detailed provenance: the clothes passed down from Adam to Noach, to Noach’s son Ham, then to Ham’s grandson Nimrod. On the day of Avraham’s death, Esav killed Nimrod to get these clothes, which were believed to have conferred great power on Nimrod, making him a skilled hunter and powerful ruler (but not powerful enough to avoid being killed by Esav, apparently).

In his discussion of Toldos, Rav Silverberg offers a very interesting analysis about the relationship between Nimrod, Esav and Yitzchak’s favoritism. Rav Silverberg suggests that Yitzchak favored Esav because he was like Nimrod, the powerful ruler and hunter. At first, it seems like an odd idea, because Nimrod is associated with evil (Migdal Bavel/ Tower of Babel, casting Avraham into the furnace). But Yitzchak saw in Esav someone who could conquer Nimrod, who opposed everything Avraham and his descendants represented. Rivka disagreed, seeing Esav as only lusting after power and not embodying the values of Avraham.

The Midrash that the ketonet passim were the clothes taken from Nimrod is especially interesting when connected to the above. It suggests that Yosef was being designated as a leader, a spiritual heir, which Yosef also prophesied with his dreams of the sheaves and the one of the sun and moon and stars.

Rav Soleveitchik suggests that the two dreams relate to two different kinds of power and leadership. The dream of the sheaves was one of material power, economic and military leadership. The dream of the sun and the moon and the stars was a dream of spiritual greatness and leadership.  Rav Soleveitchik suggests that Yosef aspired to both worldly and spiritual greatness, and “this is the meaning of the ketonet ha-passim—multicolored, not monochromatic, not one monotonous color. If there are many colors, there are many contradictions. Colors clash with one another, and Joseph was the synthesis of alumot and the heavenly bodies.”


Other Round Challah Ideas (plus another challah recipe)

October 1, 2011

I posted about different ways of braiding round challahs, but I have two more ideas.

For the challah on the left, I took two long ropes of dough and twisted them together (like you would when making babka). I took this twisted strand and wrapped it in a spiral, making a twisted round loaf.

For the challah on the right, I shaped 12 round of dough. I put 8 on the bottom of the pan (like you would for a crown challah), sprinkled over raisins and cinnamon sugar, and then placed over 4 more rounds. I dusted the top with cinnamon sugar and sprayed with oil. This makes a domed pull-apart cinnamon raisin challah. You can also spray each ball with oil and roll it in cinnamon sugar before putting it in the pan, and you can stuff the insides of the balls with more raisins or chocolate chips. I proportionately reduced the amount of sugar in the dough to balance the addition of cinnamon sugar.

Here is what they look like before being baked:


Other Blogs, Other Posts: Rosh Hashana Challah

September 25, 2011

round braided challah using Tamar Ansh's method From the Jewish Press

Braiding seems to be a big theme this year . . .

Kosher Camembert does a round braid
So does G6
And Creative Jewish Mom

Cook Kosher has a video showing how to make a 6-strand braided round challah, a 4-strand braided round challah, and a no braid round challah (crown challah)

The first time that I saw this braiding technique was in Tamar Ansh’s book A Taste of Challah (a challah recipe from that book and photos of the braiding technique are here on the OU website). Take a look at Tamar’s website for more information.

Last year, Tamar showed another round braiding technique in the Jewish Press, which I tried with great success.

This year, Tamar has a post on Joy of Kosher showing an even easier technique for a round braid. (Jamie has a video demonstrating this technique)

Here is an interesting round braid technique made by linking together challah loops.

Here is one more round braiding technique.

Why round challah?

See here and here.

If you are interested in other traditional Rosh Hashana shapes, like a bird, ladder, fish, or hamsa, take a look here.

Parshat Eikev: Not by Bread Alone

August 18, 2011

In Eikev, Moshe reminds B’nei Yisrael that Hashem provided manna in the wilderness “so that He would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of Hashem does man live.”

Moshe also speaks of the goodness of Eretz Yisrael, a land with “wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and (date) honey,” (the seven species) “a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity.”

And then follows the pasuk that is the source for the obligation to say Birkat HaMazon: “And you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good land He has given you.” (also here and here)

This week’s parsha project was making challah. We made a batch of whole wheat and a batch of regular challah. The whole wheat challah included some silan (date honey) and olive oil. The white flour used for making the regular challah includes some barley flour. Part of the dough was used to make a cinnamon raisin pull apart loaf. So, our challah included five of the seven species: barley, grapes, olives, dates, wheat.

For one of the challahs, I made a four-strand with two white and two whole wheat strands:

Parshat Chukat: Snake, Mateh, Rock, and Heifer Cookies, Plus Water Challah/Miriam’s Well

July 1, 2011

This parsha, Chukat, talks about the Parah Aduma  (red heifer), Moshe hitting the rock with his Mateh (staff) to get water when Miriam dies and her well ceases to give water, and a plague of snakes that comes.

An easy project for the kids was making chocolate cookies in the shape of snakes, rocks, staffs, and cows.  Obviously, the cow was easy for me only because I have a cow cookie cutter–a wise investment for parsha projects–but the rocks and snakes and staffs require no special equipment or skill.

Instead of the usual roll out pareve vanilla “butter cookie,” I made a favorite chocolate cookie dough that is not really for cut-out cookies, but, if chilled, is pretty easy to roll out.

I also made water challah using this recipe (but with 3 heaping Tbl. of meshaper afiyah dough conidtioner added and an additional cup of water).

For shaping the water challah, I made one into a round beehive shape using a ball of dough in a deep round pan. According to the Midrash (Tosefta Sukkah 3:11-13; Numbers Rabbah 1:2), the well of Miriam “resembled a rock the size of a beehive, from which, as out of a narrow-necked jug, water coming out in a trickle shot high up in the air like a geyser.” (see here)


Need to Knead?

May 25, 2011

I came across the following quote that challah bakers should find interesting.

Maggie Glezer, author of an excellent book about baking challah, revealed in an interview with Kosher Eye that she no longer kneads bread: “I mix all my ingredients together, make sure the dough is the correct consistency (add more flour or water, whatever the case might be) and put the dough in a container to ferment (rise). I don’t use the food processor or the stand mixer anymore.  I have honestly not noticed any difference in my bread when I stopped kneading the dough.  However, that is because the kneading machines available to home bakers are so awful.  When I have used professional equipment, I notice a big difference. So if our kneading machines don’t really make a difference in the quality of the bread, why bother? There is really nothing to this method; you are just skipping a step.  Any and all recipes can omit this step.  Try it!”

So, wait . . . we don’t have to knead challah . . . . we can just mix it?

Why would that be? (more…)

How to Turn Leftover Challah into a Danish

May 17, 2011

Do you know what Bostock is? It is brioche topped with almond cream and sliced almonds, toasted until golden. Challah also works like a charm here, giving you an opportunity to repurpose your leftover bread as a decadent Sunday morning French pastry treat. (more…)